It's Nearly Spring, But I'm No Chicken
This weekend, I got into a debate with my phone's spellcheck.
Phaces, I typed.
Phases, it corrected.
Phaces, I typed again.
Phases, it insisted.
Phaces. That bog standard common word even toddlers know. The thing we all have with the eyes and nose and mouth attached. Why did spellcheck not know this?
Phases, it replied.
It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out the problem.
Once that was solved, I sat down on the sofa to read a book. But when I say "sat", I mean something closer to "squatted". I put my back out last week plugging the vacuum cleaner in to charge, and now I only feel comfortable when I perch on my heels like a meerkat.
The book I'm reading is The Shift by Sam Baker*. I chose it because, whatever stage of my life I've been at, Sam Baker has been the editor of my favourite magazine - by publishing articles about grunge spirit in J-17, she shaped my personality more than any other person I've never met. She also printed my opinion piece on armpit hair and saved a small shred of my teenaged self-esteem - thank you, Sam; without you, I may never have started rambling into the internet.
The actual book is about perimenopause. Not something I'm showing any (definite) signs of yet, but I have a sprinkling of white hairs and a stylish new crinkle effect on my neck, so it's there, waiting in my not-too-distant future. I intend to be one of the people who breezes through the whole thing feeling calm, dry and happy, although my experiences with periods and pregnancy suggest I'm being a little bit unrealistic.
Next week, I have a follow up appointment with my GP about why my blood can't be bothered to circulate and my lungs are a bit tired of air.
I've never dreaded getting old. I had no concept of the aches and pains actually aching and causing pain. I imagined snow white locks, the opportunity to embrace eccentric hobbies and the joy of giving my grandchildren ridiculous nicknames. Plus, I've seen adverts for older people's exercises classes and they do them in their chairs.
But I'm starting to think that that adage about pensioners feeling like teenagers on the inside is rubbish. I'm 42 and my insides feel closer to 90. Sure, I still like to dance to funky music - if the funky music is several decades old - but I'm scared of YouTube, I've got no idea what 'nduja is and my right hip feels like it's due a surgical upgrade. I suspect I'm using emojis incorrectly and I enjoy an elasticated waistband.
My mattress is too firm for comfort, my sofa is too soft for comfort. Last week, I got a brochure through the door - a brochure addressed to me, not just some random bit of junk mail - for chairs which help people rise from a seated position. If they came in brighter colours, I might have been typing in one now.
Instead, I'm feeling renewed commitment to my pilates class (less lying on the floor just out of sight of the camera, more pointing and flexing my toes when the instructor tells me to). I favourited a modern day (90s influenced) artist on Spotify. I even toyed with the idea of kickboxing, but lockdown saved me from doing anything proactive about it.
Still, I'm 42. I'm not ready to be old, but I am ready to describe myself as "middle aged". My experience is that every decade (after the first one of prancing about in fancy dress, picking raspberries and trying to spot the tooth fairy) is better than the last. Crucially, each decade is more self-accepting than the one before.
So, no, I no longer have the smooth, unblemished skin of my twenties, but I don't mind my first smattering of smile lines. I'm okay with having laughter written across my phace.